Singer Abortion and Infanticide

Phil 102 (Ethics) Essay Assignment (Dr. Erb) Summer I 2021
Choose one of the following questions, and answer it according to your instructions
below. Be sure to include any relevant material considered in this course, in your
answer. The materials below are available online through D2L (the websites in questions
5 and 6, and part of 7 should be accessed directly). The paper is due (through the Essay Submission Folder, on D2L) on Friday June 11/21

A short (5-to-8 page double-spaced, not including a cover page and “works cited” page)
research/reflection paper is required of all students. In this paper, students are to
reflect “in-depth” on a topic touched upon in this course, on the basis of a choice of
readings made available on the course’s D2L. The paper should include an introductory
paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and answer the questions for the topic chosen. The
page references for quotes can be placed in parentheses in the body of the text (that is,
no footnotes or endnotes are needed, just a “works cited” page). A hard copy of the
essay topics was handed out in class. The reflection paper must be typewritten or
computer-generated, double-spaced with 1-inch margins, using 12 pt. Courier or Times
Roman or similar type and use citations (references, quotes – you don’t need footnotes)
where relevant. Students may choose from among MLA, APA, Turabian, or another
widely used style, but should cite references accordingly. (Styles may not be mixed.)

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1.Question: Ethics and Happiness in Aristotle. What, according to Aristotle, as Vanier describes it, is “desire” and the “ethics of desire”, and “happiness”? Explain what Aristotle means by “virtue”, “the joy of living”, and the various views on happiness. Do you agree with the description of happiness? Why/why not? In your answer, draw on material from the Nicomachean Ethics (see: Internet Classics Archive (online – under “Aristotle”)
Also, you can use any material on virtue ethics and Aristotle in the class textbook.

Readings: 1) Vanier, “Ethics of Desire”; 2) Nicomachean Ethics (especially Books I-II)

2. Question: Friendship and Pleasure in Virtue Ethics. Explain the role of both pleasure and friendship in Aristotle’s account of “happiness” and the “good life”. How is pleasure related to “activity”, and what are the various types of friendship? Do you agree with Aristotle? Why/why not? Why/why not? In your answer, draw on material from the Nicomachean Ethics. (see: Internet Classics Archive (online – under “Aristotle”):

Readings: 1) Vanier, “Pleasure and Friendship – The Spice of life”; 2) Nicomachean Ethics Books 8-9

3. Question: Abortion and Infanticide. Explain, by reference to these readings and to the course material on utilitarianism, why Singer is a utilitarian in his views on human life. Explain in simple
terms his arguments for abortion and infanticide, and either support or refute his views,
using reasons taken from an ethical system studied in class.
Reading: Singer – “Taking Life”; “Abortion and Infanticide”; material from class on ethical theories.

4. Question: Religion and Ethics. Compare the basic ethical precepts of either Judaism (a) or Christianity (b) with that of Buddhism (c). Which, if any, theories in our class would apply to these various religious ethics (i.e. relativism, egoism, or normative ethical theories, such as
virtue ethics, natural law, utilitarianism, deontology), and why? What are the main
similarities between the two selections you chose, and are the main differences?

Reading: Do either a) OR b), and do c:
a) “Judaism” (in A. Hunt, Ethics of World Religions)
b) “Christianity” (in A. Hunt, Ethics of World Religions)
c) “Buddhism” (in A. Hunt, Ethics of World Religions)

5. Question: Abortion. Detail the argument of both Justice Blackmun and Justice White in the case of “Roe vs. Wade”, and compare these arguments to the argument of Kreeft. Which
argument do you accept, and why? Which ethical theories are involved in the position of
Justice Blackmun, on the one hand, and the position of Kreeft, on the other?
terms his arguments for abortion and infanticide, and either support or refute his views,
using reasons taken from an ethical system studied in class.

Reading: Peter Kreeft, “The Apple Argument against Abortion”
(; The Case of “Roe
V. Wade” on Abortion

6. Question: Ethical Relativism. Compare the views of Shaw and Kreeft on relativism. Does either writer adopt ethical objectivism, or ethical absolutism? Summarize the main steps of their arguments, and state why you accept or reject either of their views.

Reading: William Shaw, “Relativism in Ethics”; and P. Kreeft, “A Refutation of Moral

7. Question: Emotions. Why are emotions called “passions” by ancient and medieval thinkers? What are the four powers of the soul, and how do they relate to the emotions? What is Aquinas’ definition of “emotion” as passion (include reference to St. John Damascene)? Explain the nature of two of the following, according to Aquinas: love, joy, sorrow, anger. Finally, explain why “love” is the most basic emotion for him.
Reading: Francis Selman, “The Emotions”, in F. Selman, Aquinas 101 (note: there are two files for this topic – one of them is called the “missing pages” in Selman.
8. Question: Euthanasia. Outline the various arguments for and against euthanasia presented by William May and the various panelists. Distinguish killing/euthanasia from ‘letting die’, and indicate which ethical theories you think are involved in the various arguments. Which view do you accept, and why (use material from class dealing with ethical theories)?
Reading: William May (and panelists): “Some Skeptical Thoughts about Active Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide” 1994). Boardman Lectureship in Christian Ethics. Paper 9. (also, a pdf is given on D2L); material on ethical theory from class. For more information on Singer Abortion and Infanticide see this:

Singer Abortion and Infanticide

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